Skip to main content


Vita Vea drawing comparisons to former teammate, Browns' DL Danny Shelton

If Washington's Vita Vea reminds you of , you're not alone.

Vea, the massive, explosive defensive lineman who is considered one of the best players in this year's NFL Draft class, embraced that comparison, too, when he first arrived on the school's Seattle campus back in 2014. The pair were teammates for that one year — Vea was a freshman from the San Jose area and Shelton was on the cusp of a dominating senior season.

"When I got to Washington, I learned a lot from Danny Shelton, being that we're kind of similar in size," Vea recently told NFL Network analysts Daniel Jeremiah and Bucky Brooks on their "Move the Sticks" podcast. "So I tried to mimic some of his stuff, his moves, because he was a great pass rusher. I learned a lot from him."

Four years later, Shelton, of course, remains cog on the Browns' defensive line. Vea, meanwhile, is preparing for the league's annual scouting combine next week in Indianapolis, hoping to follow in his former teammate's footsteps as another first-round draft pick. With a special combination of size, power and quickness, Vea, the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, would appear poised to do just that. In Jeremiah's list of the top 50 prospects, Vea checked in at No. 9, ahead of UTSA defensive end Marcus Davenport and behind Ohio State cornerback Denzel Ward. 

Though not flawless, Jeremiah wrote Vea is a "dominant run defender, routinely resetting the line of scrimmage against both individual blockers and double-teams" with a "rare lateral range for a 340-pound defender."

"Vea is a more athletic version of (Lions defensive tackle) Haloti Ngata," Jeremiah continued, "and should quickly emerge as a Pro Bowl player." draft analyst Lance Zierlein offered a similar assessment​, but compared Vea to Shelton, the 12th-overall pick in 2015. "Vea's tape can be frustrating because he flashes star potential one series and then looks average the next," Zierlein wrote. "With that said, he's still very raw and should be judged by his ability rather than just his results, as he should unlock his potential with more coaching."

Next week in Indianapolis, Vea will get to showcase his strengths and answer questions about his weaknesses. In the process, he'll likely keep drawing comparisons to Shelton — which certainly isn't a bad thing.    

"He's someone I looked up to going there," he said. "I feel like there's a lot of similarities between us."

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.

Related Content